Saturday, November 21, 2009

So that's another bike down. My bike-breaking history is not as bad as some: two aluminium, and now one titanium.

I've never really got that excited about the bikes, it's always been about the riding. Last year, I happened to be in Portland at the time of the North American Handmade Bike Show and it was just about the most boring thing ever. Wow, lugs. Tidy welds... super. But what made them better than my 1x1? Lighter, and more niche but well up the slope of diminishing returns. I'm kind of glad that beardy frame-builders exist, but I don't think I want to go hang out at a convention centre with them.

So, I've tried to pick bikes on the basis of functionality. The label and the finery does too much damage to the wallet when decent geometry shouldn't cost the earth. And what makes me deserve a multi-thousand pound frame? And that's pretty much how I look after my bikes. They're the vehicle to a world of singletrack and fun, not an end in themselves. So clean them when you have to, and chuck them in the shed when you don't.

The Voodoo was my most expensive bike yet. £1500 complete from Halfords, it's still 4.5 times less expensive than a top-of-the-range "race" bike. My first ride on it was beset by problems. The head-tube badge popped off after less than half an hour. The slidey dropouts kept sliding up, so the chain kept coming off. There was no honeymoon period, but it sprinkled gold dust over the descents and whipped up the climbs. I could sort the dropouts and bollocks to the head-badge.

Since then it's been ridden and crashed, scratched and left caked in mud, hosed down and ridden through rivers. And the mantra has been "forget about the bike" - if it's good enough to get me there and back with a grin, then it's good enough. This summer I rode other bikes for a while as the rear wheel from the Voodoo was away for serious repairs. When it came back, I hated that bike. Too whippy and unstable. Too big to crouch low. But I settled back in and the ride came back. I knew how far I could lean forwards, how much I could grab an edge from the tyres, how to flick my hips over jumps and drops.

So, I'm sad that I can't have those ride experiences right now. The Voodoo is with Halfords while they decide whether I'm a fat ape who runs his seatpost too high or a victim of a dodgy weld. Part of me hopes that they don't send a new frame, then I can go choose something else. But that ignores the money and the important thing:

The ride.

For now, it's fun time on the Pug. I don't know what I'm going to end up riding next week, but as long as the trails offer up challenges with one hand and fun with their, it doesn't matter. I suppose I'll want a new bike for the Divide, though :)

No comments: